SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, H.E. DR. JACOB G. ZUMA
New Delhi, 4th June 2010
Your Excellency, President Jacob Zuma,
Her Excellency Mrs. Zuma,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to Your Excellency President Zuma, Her Excellency Mrs. Zuma, and the distinguished members of your delegation to India. You represent a nation and a people with whom India's links are historical, precious and special.
India-South Africa friendship is rooted in our common historical experiences of colonial exploitation, as also in our struggles against the injustice and deprivation under the abhorrent system of apartheid. India was privileged to be pro-actively associated with the struggle of the South African people, and to be the first country to raise its voice against racial segregation at the UN in 1946, before we had achieved our own independence.
I recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi that, "It is my unshakeable belief that India's destiny is to deliver the message of non-violence to mankind." It was in South Africa that Mahatma Gandhi first gave expression to the path of non-violent struggle. It was in South Africa that he evolved the methods of political action with which he led India's freedom movement. It is the foundation of this deep emotional linkage that makes our ties so unique and extraordinary.
Today, our common vision of global challenges and our dynamic partnership based on mutual respect and equality have brought us closer, as we work for inclusive socio-economic growth and the collective upliftment of our peoples. India's engagement with South Africa is a true partnership - multi-sectoral, multi-dimensional, embracing sectors vital to the lives of all our peoples such as health and food security, infrastructure, and energy, generic medicines and industrial development.
The firm basis of our cooperation is our commitment to share our developmental experience, expertise and technology in identified areas of mutual priority for mutual benefit. India has and always will, remain steadfast in supporting capacity building and human resource development initiatives in South Africa.
Our two countries have strived hard to further broaden and deepen our bilateral trade and economic engagement. The volume of bilateral trade and investment has grown rapidly in the past decade and shows promise. We can further harness the existing potential through the establishment of an enabling framework that encourages our business people to seek greater avenues of collaboration.
The India-Africa Forum Summit, held in New Delhi in April 2008, has helped forge a blueprint for future partnership between India and Africa. In order to operationalize the decisions of the Summit, an Action Plan was launched recently with the African Union. The Plan has provisions for enhanced cooperation in various sectors like agriculture, capacity building, Science and Technology, security cooperation and tourism among others. The bilateral and regional components are also being implemented in consultation with our partners. We hope to carry this process forward with the active support of South Africa.
Our excellent bilateral relations are well supplemented by the IBSA Forum, which has provided a unique framework of cooperation among the three vibrant democracies and developing economies from three different continents. Through IBSA, our shared values and similar aspirations are getting channelized towards pooling of material and intellectual resources. This is not only beneficial for our common causes, but is also contributing to the shaping of the global agenda by voicing the issues of concern to developing countries.
India and South Africa share a commonality of views on major international issues. Both our countries agree on the need for reform of the United Nations, including expansion of its Security Council. We wish to ensure a better representation for developing countries and correct the historic injustice done to developing countries in general and Africa in particular. Both our countries stand united in our common objective to ensure a political and financial international architecture which is fair, equitable and takes into account the changing geopolitical realities. We have co-ordinated our positions on climate change under the BASIC grouping at the Copenhagen Summit.
Your visit comes in a special year when people of Indian origin in South Africa commemorate and celebrate the 150th anniversary of their arrival on the shores of your country. We would like to join you in this commemoration. South Africa remains the home to one of the largest communities of Indian origin in the world, many of whom are significant actors within South Africa, giving yet another significant dimension to our relationship.
We are confident that a resurgent India and a strong and confident South Africa will together make a major contribution in the world in the 21st Century.
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests may I now request you to join me in raising a toast to:-
- the good health of His Excellency President Zuma and Her Excellency Mrs. Zuma;
- to the prosperity and well-being of the people of South Africa; and
- to further strengthening of the bonds of cooperation and friendship between India and South Africa.